The New Classic: World, Meet Greta Van Fleet

Greta Van Fleet
– Greta Van Fleet
graces the cover of Pollstar
The platitude that rock is not dead has been hammered to death, but in 2018 the rock genre remains crowded with bands from the last 50 years, meaning many rock events and radio stations cater to an older audience. 

WME head of music Marc Geiger told Pollstar he has a team of four agents, including himself, working with the ascendant rock act Greta Van Fleet, who he believes has the ability to “change rock.” While Geiger said the youthful quartet can be a leading name in the industry for the next 30 to 40 years, he and his team have made every effort to ensure they don’t get pigeonholed as just a classic rock retread band.

“If a rock band like [Greta] is going to break in this day and age, they have to be positioned differently, not [just] in the rock world,” Geiger told Pollstar. “How we booked them, where we put them, what festivals we chose, what stages we chose, who we chose to play in between, which promoters we picked, which clubs we played, every bit of it had to do with keeping the band in today’s zeitgest. We played with Guns N’ Roses, but we’ve also played with Foo Fighters, we’ve also played with Brockhampton.”

The band members have been performing together at local venues in and surrounding Frankenmuth, Mich., for more than half a decade, when the bassist and drummer were still in middle school. 

Even before their earliest gig-playing days though, the guys from Greta Van Fleet, three of whom are brothers, have long been working on their musical chemistry. 
The lead guitarist, Jake Kiszka and singer Josh Kiszka are 22-year-old twins, and they are joined in the band by their younger brother Sam on bass and his classmate, drummer Danny Wagner, both of whom are 19. 
For manager Aaron Frank, the greatness of Greta is largely concentrated in their live musicianship, which includes plenty of improvisation, often drawing comparisons to Led Zeppelin. 
“When you watch them play live, they are communicating without talking. They are all in perfect synch with each other and are communicating, sometimes with a look, sometimes without even looking at each other. Especially the two twins, they know what the other is thinking,” Frank told Pollstar. 
Once the younger two members graduated from Frankenmuth High School in 2017 the band was able to begin touring in earnest. Last year saw them filling North American clubs and this year they’ve hit destination festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. 
“We played in front of 50 people every single weekend for years,” Sam Kiszka told Pollstar. “We played for five sometimes six, seven hours. And I think that’s what really created the language that we speak in [musically].” 
Kiszka said the band has gotten so used to touring, particularly in the last six to nine months, that now it is just a normal part of his day to go onstage at 9:15, play a set and spend some time with fans. While it has taken some time, Kizka said the band is now very comfortable playing for an audience of 3,000.
In terms of recorded music, Greta Van Fleet released a four-song EP, Black Smoke Rising, in early 2017 and followed it with From The Fires, which incorporated the previous four songs and four new ones. Both projects were released through Lava Record / Republic.  More music is due out soon in the form of the group’s debut LP.  

Greta Van Fleet
Travis Shinn
– Greta Van Fleet
MISTY MOUNTAIN HOP: GRETA VAN FLEET rocks L.A.’s John Anson Ford Theatre on April 16, 2018, in the week between sets at Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.
Even without a full LP having been released yet, Greta Van Fleet has been accumulating fans from all different walks of life. Kiszka said meeting Elton John and hearing him say “The music is there” in reference to the band was the biggest compliment he’s ever received. Many seem to agree, as the band has accumulated 69.5 million streams to date, according to BuzzAngle Music, with 38.8 million streams in the year to date.
Demand for Greta Van Fleet’s live show has been even higher. The band has already moved 5,000 headline tickets for its summer tour in markets like Toronto; Washington, D.C.; and Detroit. In Motor City, which is near their hometown of Frankenmuth, Mich., tickets for the three shows at The Fillmore Detroit (2,888 capacity) sold out in an hour. The band is selling out markets they’ve never even played in, but Frank said they are trying not to skip steps in properly developing the touring markets, despite the seemingly limitless demand.
“The truth is: the band is capable of selling 100 to 500 percent more tickets than we are allowing them to play right now,” Geiger said. “Aaron knows what a rate of growth looks like and that it’s unnatural. Our team, with a lot of artists, we think this is unnatural. [Greta Van Fleet] is growing, from a hard ticket sense, much more than people that have hundreds of millions more spins and views than they do.”
Controlling that growth and making sure there is no “pop” that comes from overexposure has been another challenge taken on by the team, Geiger said.
Greta Van Fleet is scheduled to perform at European festivals like Download, Northside, Pinkpop, Rock am Ring and Rock Im Park in June, along with a few headline plays. After that, the band is routed through North America with headline dates and appearances at destination events like Summerfest and Festival D’été de Québec. The band is also scheduled to run through Japan and Hawaii in August.